The Week Ahead - Fantasy EPL Player Picks Week 20

All hail Sideshow David - Clive Rose

All the news that's fit to type to help you make your fantasy Premier League selections for match week 20 of the EPL season.

2012 has been a great year for the blog and for me personally but honestly, I can't wait for it to be over. I know that things like the number on the calendar changing will likely have little to do with my luck changing as it regards my personal fantasy selections. My recommendations have continued to be pretty good but whether it is due to some sort of blind spot or just an incredible run of bad luck it hasn't translated well to the actual picks I've made. Whether it has been sticking with a guy too long, not picking up soon enough on a hot player or just picking the wrong guy seemingly every time it has come down to two options you wouldn't wish my fantasy luck this season on a worst enemy.

Why is January important? The transfer window opens the possibility of hitting the reset button on some poor choices. I'm pretty well locked in on Michu and Santi Cazorla at huge discounts but the opportunity to buy in on a new Chelsea forward, Daniel Sturridge starting at forward for Liverpool, a new defender at Arsenal and/or whatever new toys the Manchester teams bring in may be the thing that frees up budget to have a Gareth Bale or Robin van Persie in the line-up more frequently for their occasional exceptional output. Ordinarily, I'm not a huge proponent of spending that much on a player but if you have the money there's certainly nothing wrong with doing so.

As I think fondly ahead to a time in January when some new blood is available, there is still a team to be picked for the last match weekend of 2012, so here we go...

Forwards

Christian Benteke - Aston Villa have been in a two match rut but the arrival of Wigan seems like a potential tonic. Benteke has been quiet during Villa's slump but this also means his price has dropped for the occasion.

Dimitar Berbatov - If anything has characterized my season thus far it was making the late change to Berbs for the Boxing Day matches, having him score early in the match while I was traveling back to Virginia from my parents house in Pennsylvania only to find out that he managed less than 10 points for his efforts. Despite it being that sort of season for me, Fulham at home against a potentially Michu-less Swansea looks like a good pick again.

Carlton Cole - He's back from a Boxing Day break and the suspension from the weekend didn't stick so he's available for a pretty cheap price and playing against Reading. Seems like solid logic to me.

Danny Welbeck - With Wayne Rooney on the shelf for a few more weeks with a knee issue there's potential value in Welbeck since Chicharito hasn't exactly wowed anyone when he has started.

Jermain Defoe - Still not buying Sunderland even after their win on Boxing Day.

Etay Shechter - If you want a bargain basement possibility with Michu on the sidelines for at least one match Shechter comes in at 3.28 and was the choice to replace Michu over Danny Graham against Reading. Not a guarantee he'll start but an interesting option if you're looking for one.

Bryan Ruiz - He's baaaaack and the opportunity to reignite my fantasy crush on him returns along with it. As a bonus, his price has dropped to just over 9.

Midfielders

Gareth Bale - He has to be considered given that he's the premium player coming the closest to being worth his price when he's healthy.

Mark Noble - He's the kind of player who isn't quite good enough to be selected on most weeks but when they're playing a relegation-bound team like Reading they're worth considering. Especially when they take penalties and cost less than 10 both of which are true of Noble.

Javi Garcia - Not a high upside pick but his price isn't out of line with his production and a fairly cheap way to get in on City if you think they'll bounce back from their Boxing Day debacle.

Michael Kightly - The match-up is good and he's due for a big match. I like Stoke's match-up but I don't want to overpay for Walters, Kenwyne Jones or even Eth after they produced well above their averages against Liverpool on Boxing Day.

Jamie Mackie - Nik was on this for Boxing Day and the pick remains valid with a potentially Suarez-less Liverpool coming to Loftus Road. The bonus is that Mackie is still very cheap.

Jack Wilshere - Just my version of a Funny Feeling Friday with the Arsenal midfielder getting to play against a largely injured Newcastle midfield bereft of Cabaye, HBA, Anita, and Gutierrez. The points could go to Cazorla, Arteta or someone else but Wilshere seems to be knocking on the door and he's cheap.

Defenders

Brede Hangelaand - His price has dropped and it's hard to see Swansea getting much going forward without Michu. A risk given Fulham's recent track record but not a huge one.

Chris Smalling - With Phil Jones and Rafael still out Smalling seems like a reasonable risk on the off chance that Manchester United actually get their defensive act together.

Joe Bennett - The next in a long line of young Villa defenders priced cheaply who might produce some solid value on a limited basis.

Ryan Shotton - With Cameron and Shawcross suspended for accumulation and a solid match-up Shotton looks like a nice bargain at 6.56 but he's fooled us before.

David Luiz - With the erstwhile defender moving up in the formation, taking some kicks, and definitely taking penalties he's one of the few defenders worth a high price as Chelsea seem to have turned a corner.

Goalkeepers

Mark Schwarzer - I'm aware that I'm a little high on Fulham given their recent run of poor form but I like the match-up and Schwarzer is priced at a mere 8 which is a good deal for goalkeepers these days.

Brad Guzan - I've taken it on the chin with Guzano (who has been very good despite his two consecutive negative scores) but the payoff will (hopefully) come in the form of a much easier match-up over the weekend. Wigan are no Chelsea/Spurs and Guzan's price has gone back into the "very affordable" range.

Pepe Reina - I generally don't like spending more than 10 on a goalkeeper and Reina's price dip after the undressing at the hands of Stoke helps keep his price down. With QPR not exactly inspiring opposition, a solid nil-nil draw could do Pepe well at a decent price.

Jussi Jaaskelainen - With Reading the opposition you have to like Jussi even though his price is pretty close to the 10 line.

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